Today's offering is perhaps not the usual Hallmark take on Father's Day, okay. Tony Hoagland as usual slashes right through convention with the straight razor he keeps in his back pocket even when he's sleeping. This poem rides on a wave of brutal honesty that is riveting, disturbing, and perversely satisfying, the way the person at the funeral who stands up and tells an unflattering anecdote about the deceased is the only one who makes you finally break down and weep. I have admired Tony Hoagland's work since I first encountered it for his absolute, Lawrentian insistence on candor at all costs. Hoagland's voice characteristically plunges and swerves through the rapids of our culture's amorality, all the while "simply" telling you about something that happened to him one day. His is a crafted and deeply thoughtful recklessness. Which sounds contradictory until you read, for example, this poem, which first appeared in New Ohio Review 5, Spring 2009.
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